Monday, November 29, 2010

The Thing I am Most Thankful for this Year

This week was a short work week for us because of the Thanksgiving Holiday.  We worked Monday to Wednesday as usual, and then were off the rest of the week.  Work was a little slow this week because most of the patients were being discharged for the holiday.  Most of the patients that I do bedsides with in the afternoons were already discharged by my shift on Wednesday, so I imagine that next week will be completely new patients for me, which is exciting and disappointing at the same time.  It’s great that most of the kids were able to go home for the holiday, but disappointing that some of the one’s I had spent time with I won’t see again.

This year was the first Thanksgiving that I haven’t spent with my family, which was really strange.  My team spent Thanksgiving with two Water teams that are also in Arkansas.  We had a potluck lunch where the three teams contributed different foods and drinks and ate at the camp where Water 2 is working.  The day definitely felt like an awkward family holiday, where Fire 6 was the redheaded stepchild of the family.  It’s definitely hard to get together in large groups like that, especially when two of the teams are from the same unit, spent all of training together, and formed bonds that we weren’t able to for the most part.  I’m glad to say though, I think the day definitely brought the team closer together, and I was so thankful to have them as my team compared to other possibilities.  I think the hardest thing about Thanksgiving was not being able to have lunch at my grandparents’ house.  I am so used to doing that every year and drawing names for Christmas gift exchange that I felt left out when my mom called and passed the phone around to the rest of our family. 
The rest of the week and weekend were filled with activities.  Friday, I went hiking with Chris and hung out at camp for a bit.  Then, that afternoon I went with my team to the University of Arkansas in Little Rock Men’s basketball game, which they won.  Saturday, me and a couple of my teammates went to the Arkansas V. LSU tailgate, which took me back to the good times at W. B. stadium with my Gamecock friends. 

Basically, it made me miss home and the fall in the South.  There is really nothing like it.  Every weekend is filled with die-hard football fans tailgating, cheering on their teams, and either celebrating the win or sulking over the loss.  Mild weather and weekends spent at bonfires with good friends.  Does life get any better?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Chutes and Ladders, Kipper, and Incident Reports

I finished my first week of work yesterday.  Needless to say it was interesting, as is every event for me it seems.
The first morning went well.  I took the Hospitality Cart around with Melissa on the first floor, and then I was on my own for the next hour and a half.  Since then, I have been doing it on my own, and I really enjoy it.  I was telling my supervisor that it's fun to be able to give things to the parents that they need, especially when they expect you to be bringing things to their children. 

The second part of the day is when I make my patient visits.  The first day I met with my afternoon supervisor, Wendy, and she went over the patient stat sheet with me and discussed a few patients, but we ran out of time and I didn't get to observe any bedsides.  So, the next day I was on my own to do bedsides because Wendy was in meetings for the afternoon.  My first bedside was traumatic to say the least.  I went to visit a patient in the Neurology  Unit, and he had just returned to the room from a minor procedure.  His granddad needed to run out to his car, so I agreed to sit with the patient and play with him for a little while.  He was a three year old little boy, full of energy but pretty easy to entertain.  I hung out with him for a few minutes, and then the nurse came in to order his lunch etc.  While the nurse was giving me instructions for the little boys lunch, he fell through the bed rails out of the bed.  That's right, right on the floor, a neuro patient.  I wanted to cry, but I didn't.  He ended up being fine and discharged later that evening I think, but it wasn't the best way to start off my bedsides.  Since then however, my bedsides have gone much more smoothly.  I have held some of the babies, played chutes and ladders, and read stories about Kipper.

I am looking forward to the rest of our time here.  My supervisors make the job so much more enjoyable, and seeing the kids stuck in bed all day is tough, but it's fun to play with them and know that you are making their time there a little bit more enjoyable.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Ar Can Saw

Yesterday, we finally got our placements for the Arkansas Children's Hospital, and I am working with the Hospitality Cart and as a Floater for two floors.  Now, what does that mean?  We spent all day yesterday orienting ourselves to the different volunteer roles...all 15 of them.  We could rank our top ten, which was difficult since I felt the same about quite a few of the roles. 

The Hospitality Cart position is based out of the Volunteer Services Office.  With that I will be taking a cart around to the general patient rooms and offering the parents any toiletry items they might need, socks, notepads, or word searches.  Basically, I will providing for those who are too busy worrying about their children to be worried about themselves, which I am absolutely excited about.  This will give me a chance to interact with the families and the patients on three floors of the hospital.  Also, I am excited to be working so closely with the Volunteer Services Office, since I am interested in possibly working with Volunteer Coordination. 

As a Floater, I am working with the Child Life Education Office.  I will be visiting patients in the general medical ward and the neurological ward, bringing them games and various things to entertain them if they are confined to their rooms, or taking them to the play rooms.  This part I am most nervous about because I will be seeing some of the patients for several days, possibly weeks, and I don't want to get too attached.  Overall though, I think this will be a fun placement and a great experience.  My only exposure to hospital's has been less than positive to say the least, so hopefully this will change my views.

I'm running out of time here in Starbucks, but will be sure to give you a quick update sometime this weekend with more details about the living arrangements and other fun things in Little Rock.  Also, I have added my mailing address for this project, so I would love any and all mail!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Rond 1 Spike

Friday, we received our permanent teams and round 1 Spike assignments.  As my unit gathered to find out who our teammates would be, I was getting more and more nervous.  Once the unit was together, our unit leader and two assistants called us out one by one to receive a clue as to who else was on our team and who our team leader was.  Each slip of paper given had song lyrics typed out, and we had to figure out the other Corps Members that completed our song.  I was one of the last people to find their group because I had the most obscure Spice Girl lyric and no one thought I was a part of their group.  When I finally found my group, we had to unscramble the bold letters within our lyrics to reveal the location of our Team Leader.

My permanent team consists of myself and 9 other Corps Members, 5 guys and 5 girls.  We are all over 21 except for 3 members.  David and I are the only team members from the South.  He is fresh out of high school from Atlanta, Georgia.  Most everyone else is from the North with the exception of Louise, who is from Hawaii.  My team leader is Kiera.  She is my age and a recent college grad.  She is one of the few team leaders that was not a corp member last year.  Overall we have a fun group of people.  Everyone is pretty outgoing, and those who aren't are trying to be, so it will be fun getting to know everyone.  Prior to permanent teams, I had only hung out with 2 of the guys outside of training, so I have a lot of catching up to do getting to know everyone else better.  Luckily, there will be plenty of time for that on Spike.

We leave next Saturday for our first round Spike.  It's crazy that training is almost over, and we are actually getting to go out and start a project.  My team, as well as two teams from the Water Unit, will be traveling to Arkansas until Christmas break.  My team is going to Little Rock, Arkansas, population  685,488 including the surrounding metropolitan cities.  While we are there, we will be volunteering through Arkansas Children's Hospital, the only pediatric care facility in the state, and one of ten in the country.  Kiera could not tell us exactly what we would be doing, but we will be working two out of three shifts Monday through Friday.  The hospital will be providing us with one meal per day, but as a team we will be responsible for the rest of our meals.  We have a great living accommodation provided to us directly across the street from the hospital.  We will have three apartments, one for the guys, one for the girls, and one for our team leader.  The apartments are fully furnished and the complex also has a gym, which will be great since our PT has to be done in the mornings twice a week as a unit.

I am very excited about this opportunity.  I have never volunteered in a children's hospital.  Now I know what you are thinking, Mary doesn't even like kids, but I am trying to be open minded.  Who knows, I might have a change of heart just from this experience.  I will be posting my mailing address for the apartments in my next blog, so feel free to mail me Thanksgiving cards, letters, or coupons (we are living on a $4.50 per day food budget and could use any help with those items)!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Dear Permanent Team, I hope you love me and I love you.

  Today is the day.  At some point during our training today between 8am and 5 pm, we will be given our permanent teams.  Permanent teams are the teams that you will be living and working with during Spikes with the exception of one round, which is the shuffle round.  Today seems to be a day that we have all been excited and nervous for ever since we started working within our units.  My feelings towards today, well I personally am STRESSING.  I mean let's be real here; the next eight months of my life will primarily be spent with my team of 7-10 people in  very close quarters and potentially stressful situations. Living, eating, sleeping, and working beside one another day in and day out for six weeks at a time.  I feel like this is a pretty big deal and I deserve to be a little stressed.  I can work with pretty much anyone, so I'm not worried about the workdays, but living with 10 people is going to be a challenge.  Sharing a space with 3 people has proven difficult for me in the past, and I could take breaks from them by going to class, or work, or anywhere really, but I won't really have that option while on Spike.
  The past few days all most of us have talked about is whose team we want to be on and who we want as a team leader.  A friend of mine here gave me a reality check earlier and said that he was a strong believer in fate, and whatever was meant to be would be in the end.  I had to agree with him.  We have absolutely no control over who our team leader or teammates will be in the end because it is completely left up to the team leaders and our unit leader.
  Another person told me to look at this as my personal challenge for the next eight months, which I'm sure it will prove to be just that.  I know there will be times that the entire team doesn't get along, and times that I will just want my own personal space and be alone, but I joined the program to help me find more opportunities in life.  What better way to open more doors than to make connections with strangers and have them help you work on the qualities that you do not possess and build on the qualities and skills that you already have?  I will definitely have to continuously keep my self in check and be a constant reminder to myself of why I am here.
                             All day I will be reminding myself 3 words:

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Jack O' Lanterns

Weird how this Halloween did not even feel like Halloween.  Maybe it was because this is the first one that I haven't planned for and spent with my friends or that I wasn't able to go out somewhere that I know....none the less I enjoyed myself.  I had a pretty lame costume, which I had several people refer to me as a Halloween mom.  Who doesn't enjoy that?  Friday, we had a "dance party" on campus that everyone wore their costumes to, and then afterward we went across the street to the Mexican Restaurant, which was itneresting...Luckily Julie is around and is extremely inviting, so she let Chris and I go to her friends Halloween party with her on Saturday.  There were some pretty entertaining costumes, but I won't bore with the details.  Basically, I love being here, but I definitely miss being close to my friends and doing stuff like dressing up like fools with them specifically.  So, Madison, Saye, Tate, Lee and Ar I will be seeing you all next Halloween in Charleston, the usual spot.